Dylan Dreyer is making some major changes to her recipe book after finding out her 6-year-old son, Calvin Fichera, was diagnosed with celiac disease. The discovery came roughly one year after Calvin, also known as Cal, started experiencing frequent stomach pain, hair loss, a head rash, and an earache.
The family finally learned of the diagnosis in March 2023 and they’re still learning how to navigate his new lifestyle – which requires him to avoid foods with wheat, rye, and/or barley in them. More specifically, he needs to avoid gluten, which is the protein found in wheat, barley, and rye – it’s also found in other foods.
For the first time since the diagnosis, Dreyer is going into detail about her son’s health and how they plan to overcome the disease together. And don’t worry, the duo plan to continue their Cooking With Cal segment on the TODAY show – though we can expect to see more gluten-free alternatives for Calvin.
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In her interview with TODAY.com, Dylan Dreyer said there was a point in time when they thought her son’s appendix burst – adding that the pain got so bad that Calvin was ‘hunched over.’ Unfortunately, a trip to the ER didn’t produce any answers – they had an ultrasound done, but his appendix looked fine.
It took them nearly a year of going from one doctor to the next, but the family’s persistence paid off when a doctor discovered the celiac disease after a blood test. “I knew nothing about celiac disease. I knew a friend of a friend had it, and she couldn’t eat bread. That’s basically the knowledge I had,” Dylan said.
His stomach pain was just one of the many problems Calvin was experiencing at the time. He complained of an earache for almost a year, but doctors couldn’t explain why. He also had a rash on his scalp, started to experience hair loss, and had a hard time holding on to things – he often dropped things, like a fork.
Once the celiac disease was discovered, a gastroenterologist performed an endoscopy to confirm there was damage to the intestines – during an endoscopy, a camera is sent down the mouth and through the body. With the diagnosis, Calvin and the rest of his family were forced to make some lifestyle changes.
Dylan Dreyer Says Her Son ‘Feels Good’ Now
After a year of suffering, Dylan Dreyer can finally say her son is starting to feel like himself again. She says he ‘finally feels good’ and is happy they discovered the disease because he can ‘finally feel like myself.’ Now that they’ve cut gluten out of his diet, his stomach pain, earache, and rash are all gone.
“It turns out that’s a side effect of celiac disease. It turns out that weakness in your hands is also a side effect. … We took him to the doctor for the stomach pain, and it turns out that it was all caused by the same pain,” Dreyer tells TODAY.com. Now, she’s urging others to advocate for their childrens’ health.
She also wants parents to remain patient, yet persistent when visiting doctors and specialists – they might not find the answer right away, but they’ll eventually narrow it down. And when they do, it’s important to follow their directions and guidance very carefully to ensure your child is put in a position to succeed.
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As far as her son’s new diet, Dylan Dreyer is doing her best to help him find alternatives to his favorite foods. “I want him to still be able to enjoy food and not just settle for something. There’s a lot of recipes that just don’t have gluten. I can cook a lot that doesn’t involve breads and flours,” she tells TODAY.
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